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EditorialsUpFront October 22

UpFront October 22

There’s little doubt that many stories, as they make their way through history, go through a certain amount of shape-shifting. It’s one of the reasons that traditional media spends so much time fact-checking and ‘reality checking’. But it’s not always fake news or devious manipulation that causes problems. There are times when our memories and what we think we see, simply play tricks on us. A friend once told me about an incident she witnessed along with two others. They gave statements to the police and later discovered that each of them saw the incident quite differently. I have occasionally told friends the story of when Princess Maragaret visited the village I grew up in. My father, ever the entrepreneur, had started a dog racing enterprise in a field behind our house to raise money to build a clubhouse for our local boxing club. It was called Mongrel Park, and although it might have been entirely frivolous and more for the dogs’ enjoyment than the visitors, it took off and was held twice a week, often attracting big crowds. Local bookies set up stands and there were many furry friends that got fully into the spirit of the chase. Over time champions were crowned and great memories made. The part of the story that shape-shifted was an occasion when my father had a big banner made announcing ‘Mongrel Park Welcomes Princess Margaret’ and had it tied between two poles across the main road in the village. I recall how the story of the day royalty came to town was often mentioned as I grew up. However, it turns out my version had a fatal flaw. I learned a couple of days ago that not only was Princess Margaret nowhere near the dog races, she wasn’t even in the country. It was a visit by Princess Grace of Monaco that had piqued my father’s attention. It seems the banner actually said ‘Mongrel Park Welcomes the Rainiers’. And it turns out that they did pass through the village on race day. However, unlike the huge crowds that gathered to see Her Majesty’s funeral recently, everybody was busy cheering on their household pets and missed them. How memory can be flawed. I’m sure, given enough time, the story will change again. One day someone will swear blind that Queen Elizabeth II came to town and was so enthralled by the event that she entered the corgis—and that they won.

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